– Today Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the Rural Revitalization Advisory Council released its report on the strategic plan. Established by executive order in February 2020, the council was created to identify the needs and issues facing Louisiana’s vital rural communities, along with solutions to remove any barriers that prevent them from being more productive places, healthy and attractive for living and working.
âRural Louisiana communities are the lifeblood of our state,â Governor Edwards said. âTheir natural resources power and fuel the world, but their citizens bear a disproportionate burden of poverty and lack of adequate access to healthcare, education, broadband and other basic needs. Our work to address these disparities has become even more urgent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to tests, treatment and vaccinations can mean the difference between life and death. The Rural Revitalization Advisory Council’s strategic report provides coordinated advice on key issues that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people in our rural areas.
The council’s report identifies four key recommendations to improve the quality of life in rural Louisiana: expand broadband access across the state; improving infrastructure; develop and expand opportunities for manpower training and higher education and the maintenance and expansion of agricultural centers in state university systems.
âThe Rural Revitalization Advisory Council’s report provides a well-documented and elaborate plan that was developed through the participation of rural stakeholders, the Office of Rural Development and the Resilient Louisiana Commission. Now, with these achievable goals identified, Louisiana can execute focused work that delivers the best possible results to stakeholders in the state’s rural communities, âsaid former state senator Noble Ellington, who is executive director of the Office of Rural Development. âCollaborating in identifying these issues has given rise to new ideas, approaches and tactics. Louisiana will continue to provide strong support to its rural communities, which are clearly a critical part of our future success. “
Chaired by former state senator Ben Nevers, the Advisory Council is made up of 37 key state and local actors appointed by the governor. The council was tasked with focusing on identifying needs and solutions in eight areas: economic development, education, health care, infrastructure, clean water, agriculture and forestry, workforce development and broadband. . The council was divided into nine sub-committees, with the addition of the key issue of financing to address affordable housing and credit opportunities.
The strategic plan breaks down these focus areas into identifiable goals and objectives. The council has sought to maximize its efforts by identifying and harnessing state, federal and private resources in new ways.
The full report on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan can be viewed here.